Fragrance Free

As part of our commitment to universal access, all Think Again events are fragrance-free. Event organizers need to communicate with participants in advance to make sure they will come to the event without fragrance. Below is sample language that you can copy for this purpose. Different events may require different work around the fragrance-free policy and other access needs – we will gladly work with you to problem-solve and figure out what will work best for your event.

In addition to communicating with participants, event hosts should

  • make sure fragrance-free hand soap is available for participants to use in the restrooms during and before the event
  • remove obvious sources of fragrance such as “air fresheners,” pot pourri, incense, and scented candles
  • request that scented cleaning products not be used in the event space for several days before the event (especially for longer workshops, and especially products used on soft surfaces like carpets)

For open-to-the-public events where RSVPs are not required, please include the following statement in all outreach materials:

FRAGRANCE-FREE EVENT. For the health and safety of facilitators and participants, it is important that everyone come fragrance-free to this workshop. For information on how and why to be fragrance-free, see If you arrive wearing a fragrance, you will be asked to wash it off, and if that’s not possible, to leave the workshop. If you have questions, or if you are not sure you can be fragrance-free, please contact ________ [insert contact person’s information here!]

For closed workshops, trainings or meetings whose participants you can contact in advance, please send the following information (the whole rest of this page) at least one week before the event. Or, you may send a shorter message such as the one above, with a link to this page and the instruction to read it at least several days before the event.

Fragrance-Free Event

For the health and safety of facilitators and participants, it is important that everyone come fragrance-free to this workshop. Please read the info below now. (Don’t wait until the last minute! You may need to plan ahead to be fragrance-free). Then, if you have questions, or if you are not sure you can be fragrance-free, please contact the event organizer who referred you to this page.

Why Be Fragrance-Free

Many people in our community become ill when exposed to fragrances such as those contained in personal care and laundry products. Many of these products contain unlisted toxins, and while almost everyone may have some reaction to strong fragrances, some of us have much more immediate reactions even to “lighter” fragrances – including migraines, blurred vision, muscle and joint pain, difficulty breathing, and even seizures. If participants wear fragrances to this training, the facilitator may become ill. If you arrive wearing a fragrance that makes someone ill, you will be asked to wash it off, and if that’s not possible, you may be asked to leave the training.

How to Be Fragrance-Free

Being fragrance-free means arriving to the workshop with no fragrance on your body, hair or clothes. Some products that contain fragrance may not smell strongly to you. Check the label for ingredients such as “fragrance,” “natural fragrance,” (manufacturers can say that anything is “natural;” it doesn’t actually mean anything) or “parfum.” Keep in mind:

  • Products that may contain fragrances include perfume, cologne, shampoo and other hair items, soap, lotion, aftershave, sunscreen, insect repellent, deodorant, makeup, laundry detergent and drier sheets.
  • Almost all of these products are available in fragrance-free varieties, including deodorant (but not perfume or cologne, obviously).
  • Laundry products are especially problematic because the fragrance chemicals are designed to stick to fabric for weeks or more. Even some “fragrance free” drier sheets contain harmful chemicals that affect people in the same ways as fragrances! Wool felt drier balls are a safer substitute.
  • Truly natural fragrances are less harmful than manufactured fragrances, but can still cause illness for some people and should be used sparingly. And remember – even if the label says it’s natural, it may not be. If the label says a specific plant name, such as “chamomile extract,” it is more likely to be actually natural than if it says something vague like “plant essences.”

For a short, one-time event, you can be relatively fragrance free without purchasing new products:

  1. Leave off optional products (such as perfume, cologne, aftershave, lotion, hair gel), especially products that stay on you all day (as opposed to those you use and then rinse off).
  2. Deodorant –  Most people prefer to simply buy an unscented deodorant. If you can’t do that, the best option is to replace scented deodorant with witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, or baking soda (you may want to apply more than once during the day). Deodorants that are lightly, naturally scented are usually okay for short events. Spray deodorants (like Axe) and strongly scented ones (like Old Spice) are not okay.
  3. Choose your outfit in advance. Wash it in plain water, or with baking soda in place of detergent, and then dry it without drier sheets. If you don’t have time to wash an outfit, hang it up to air out for a day or two (ideally in the sun).
  4. If you MUST use a scented product (such as hand soap in a public restroom where no fragrance-free soap is available), avoid doing so during the training or immediately before it starts.
  5. If you smoke, avoid doing so during the training or immediately before it starts, and/or wear an outer layer when you go out to smoke that you can take off and leave outside the training room.

Another useful explanation of why and how to be fragrance-free can be found here.Further info and lists of safe products can be found here. Some brilliant and useful thoughts about race, class, gender, disability and fragrance-free policies can be found here. A University of Washington study documenting the toxins found in common products can be found here.